Coming to a fair trade chocolate shop near you
Avanaa has been enriching the province's culinary landscape since 2016. Its founder, Catherine Goulet, was keen to learn how to make artisan chocolate and about all the issues involved. To be able to offer a responsible product of the highest quality made in Montreal, Avanaa designs its chocolate from bean to bar, fostering local production from cocoa beans imported from small producers.
Strength in unity
To make a living from their land, these producers form cooperatives. This lets them buy a fermentation centre, where they place the beans a few days after being picked. Small producers also join together to export, as their individual production would not be enough to fill a shipping container. Quebec's artisan chocolate makers follow the same process. Since they are too "small" to import in large quantities, they team up to place larger orders with producer cooperatives. "It takes organization on both sides of the supply chain. But in the end, everyone wins.” The producers benefit from a more cost-effective sales channel and can keep producing exceptional quality cocoa on their land. At the other end, the manufacturers gain access to a much richer and more diverse range of flavours than we' re used to. "With industrial chocolate production, we get the chocolate taste but miss all the nuances.“ However, cocoa can be creamier or less creamy, fruity, caramelized, spicy… “And from the beans comes total freedom to create recipes from A to Z."
The producers benefit from a more cost-effective sales channel and can keep producing exceptional quality cocoa on their land.
A long journey
From the tree to our taste buds, chocolate goes through a long process. Harvested twice a year, in July and December, the cocoa is first fermented on site for five days and then dried in the sun. Next, It heads to the sea in 70 kg bags for a long journey that can take up to four weeks.
After receiving the shipment, the Avanaa team goes through the many stages of production: sorting the beans, roasting them, crushing them, winnowing them, grinding them, conching them... "The two key stages, which will have a significant impact on the quality of the product, are producing and processing the beans. The two key stages, which will have a determining influence on the taste of the final product, are above all the roasting and the conching", i.e. aerating the cocoa, which enables the chocolate to reach a perfect balance of acidity and sweetness.
As a finishing touch, Catherine adds hints of nuts, spices, coconut, milk, coffee, vanilla, etc. The chocolates are ready for tasting!
"At first, I thought it took a factory to make chocolate," Catherine said. But now she manages to do it all in her workshop. "You have to be inventive when you're on a small scale." The company of five employees is quietly growing and developing an increasingly diversified range of products that includes herbal teas and chocolate beverages as well as about fifteen flavours of chocolate bars. A great way to align happy taste buds and fair trade!
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